Learned Optimism: A Balm for Social Worker Stress

Allen, Viviette L.
December 2017
Social Work & Christianity;Winter2017, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p83
Academic Journal
Social workers provide vital services, often under adverse and stressful circumstances, to the hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, imprisoned and abandoned, "the least of these my brethren" (Matthew 25:40). By mission, principle and ethical imperative, social workers seek to assuage the oppression, deprivation, injuries and inequalities of society as well as the struggles of individuals and families. Learned optimism, as pioneered by Seligman (1991) and supported by empirical evidence, promotes the courage, mindfulness, resilience, well-being, productivity and persistence necessary to sustain social work's vision and to face challenging and sometimes overwhelming tasks. Learned optimism is characterized by the cognitive duality of sustainable hope paired with a clear and realistic appraisal of obstacles. Through the use of pertinent existing literature and Biblical scripture, this article explores applications of learned optimism to address social work stress.


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